After kidney exchange, families meet for first time: 'A small sacrifice — a big impact'

A suburban couple was involved in a reunion of sorts Thursday, meeting others involved in a kidney donation exchange.

The exchange started with three people who desperately needed kidneys. Each had a loved one ready to give their organ, but they weren't a match. So, instead they donated to a stranger in a cycle of giving and getting lifesaving organs.

For the very first time, Marissa and Rick Calcutt from Mount Prospect met Christine and Ruth Faust from Buffalo, New York over a video call Thursday morning.

Already, they were bonded for life.

Marissa and Rick kept saying, "thank you" to Christine Faust who donated her kidney to Rick. His kidneys were failing quickly, and dialysis wasn't going well.

"I feel completely normal, and I can't believe how fast it went," Rick said.


"We have three kids, and I was so happy that he'll be healthy for them," said Marissa.

"It sounds like a big ordeal to donate a kidney, but it's not as bad as you think," added Christine, who donated her organ so her mother-in-law could get a kidney from someone else.

That anonymous person's loved one got a kidney from Marissa and sent her a card of thanks.

"I guess she's been waiting for one for a while, and she said my kidney was a rock star from day one," said Marissa.

Frederick Calcutt, 59, listens while his wife Marissa Calcutt, 52, tears up while speaking virtually to her husband’s kidney donor during a press conference at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. The Calcutts we

The need for more kidneys is dire, according to the doctor at Advocate Christ Medical Center, who did Rick's transplant surgery.

"Donors like Marissa, God bless them. They come up and take part in the exchange, and they donate a kidney to a stranger," said Dr. Deepak Mital, Advocate transplant surgeon.

"It's great that you can give another person life. If not your own loved one, then someone else," said Marissa.

Rick thought he'd be waiting years for a transplant, but he waited weeks. His life and two others were saved by this cycle of donations.